For most of my life, I thought fashion was something that was inaccessible to me. It may have had something to do with the fact that I was wearing adult sizes by the time I was in middle school. All those cute “teenage” size clothes that my friends bought at Aeropostale or Abercrombie or Delia’s never worked for me. It constantly boggled my mind that I could wear an adult size 12 and not fit into a teen size 15.
Needless to say, I grew up with a fair amount of self-confidence issues and an intense hatred of fashion and its brands. If they weren’t interested in me, I wasn’t interested in them. Unfortunately, the brands that were making clothes in my size reminded me of things my grandmother wore.
Finding My Style, Take 1
By high school, I had given up completely on trying to fit in and had found a “uniform” that worked for me: size 17 bootleg jeans from the Delia’s catalog and the world’s best collection of men’s t-shirts, size XL. My dad once referred to my wardrobe as “tent clothing,” but at the time, I didn’t realize I had any other options. Style didn’t come in my size.
Lookin’ Good (An Epiphany)
The jeans and t-shirts phase continued through college. In the winter, I would often cover up with an extra-large college sweatshirt.
But then something changed.
I still remember the first time I showed up at the theatre where I worked during college in something other than jeans and a t-shirt. I was going out that night and was wearing a dressy outfit that a friend had forced me into buying. On my way, I stopped by the theatre to pick up a check. When I walked in, my guy friends lovingly whistled and told me I looked great. I wondered what the hell they were talking about.
Then, for the first time in my life, I considered that maybe (just maybe) they weren’t making fun of me. “Maybe they’re serious,” I thought. “I think maybe I do look good.”
Finding My Style, Take 2
It was as if a light bulb went on in my head in that moment; I suddenly realized that there was nothing wrong with the body I had. Like any other body, it has its good and bad points. It dawned on me that maybe there were certain ways to accentuate the parts I liked the best.
So, at the tender age of 22, I began the process of figuring out how to look and feel good in my clothes. And I can tell you one of the first things I realized is that my t-shirt size was definitely not a men’s XL!
I think it took a few years from that point on to actually figure out what kinds of things work for me and I’m still adjusting. Being comfortable is really important to me, so you generally won’t find me in skirts or stilettos, but fitted shirts, layers, lots of color and fun jewelry are now the staples of my day-to-day look.
Sometimes I still go out in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers, but the clothes fit properly now. I add in some funky earrings and I actually feel cute and stylish.
Happily Ever After
At the end of the day, fashion doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of money or wearing the same styles and brands as everyone else. For me, it simply means wearing clothes that make me feel good every single day in the body I have.
And that aspect of fashion should be accessible to everyone.
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